Australia’s food security not for sale

Jul 5, 2023

KATTER’S Australian Party MP Bob Katter is demanding the sale of strategic agricultural assets to a foreign company be swiftly rejected by the Prime Minister and Treasurer.

Responding to news US private equity firm Paine Schwartz Partners has offered to buy Costa Group – one of Australia’s largest agriculture operations, Mr Katter said “Australia was selling it’s own house” and he wouldn’t stand for the nation losing control of its food production to a foreign company. [1][1]

“We have already sold our ore and fossil fuels to the world, we have allowed the foreign takeover of our ports and strategic airfields, we have sold our electricity assets and large amounts of water allocation,” Mr Katter said.

“We’ve sold everything in the house, and now the house is for sale.

“With this sale we are looking down the barrel of losing prime agricultural land together with control over the food this land produces and our limited leverage over the major supermarkets.”

Mr Katter warned that a short-term gain by a handful of Costa Group executives would be long term pain for all Australians.

“The modus operandi of these private equity firms is often to buy large companies on the cheap and strip them bare and sell off portions for a significant profit.

“Leaving a decision on this sale to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) is like leaving a baby in charge of a bulldozer – the FIRB legacy is the promotion, rather than oversight, of foreign sale.”

At a recent press conference, the Treasurer was quoted saying: “If we want to grow this national economy, then primary industries have got to be a big part of the story.”

“The Treasurer is well aware of escalating food prices, especially fresh produce and the current effects of this on Australian families,” Mr Katter said.

“The cost-of-living crisis in Australia is only just beginning. Already we are receiving warnings of substantial increases in the price of electricity and fuel.

“In a future where the global food security is an issue, do we really want to take the risk that our agricultural products are sent overseas while we starve.”

“You wouldn’t be Robinson Crusoe to draw the link between the foreign sale of these assets and now the massive cost increases we are experiencing,” he said.


[1][1]DataRoom: Analysts Paine Schwartz Costa bid | The Australian